Crimson Tide in the NFL: Week 1

Tzali Nislick, Contributing Writer

Alabama football is known for producing elite NFL talent at an unprecedented level. With the NFL back in full swing starting last Thursday, there were many Crimson Tide alumni who made early impacts in week one.  

The Crimson White sports desk is beginning a new series, “Crimson Tide in the NFL,” featuring weekly recaps of former Alabama players’ standout moments in the professional league.  

Be sure to follow along each week over the course of the 2022 NFL season but for now, let’s look at who made their presence felt over the weekend. 

Player of the Week: Minkah Fitzpatrick 

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (2015-2017) has been a star ever since he stepped foot in Tuscaloosa, and he has become arguably even more dominant in the NFL.  

He flashed his skills on Sunday, picking off Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and returning it for a touchdown early in the first quarter. Fitzpatrick also blocked an extra point attempt with two seconds remaining in regulation to keep the game tied and force overtime. The Steelers went on to win a thriller in the extra frame and they could not have done it without the stellar effort from Fitzpatrick, who ended the day with 14 tackles. 

Lockdown Defense 

A slew of players on the defensive side of the ball also stuffed the stat sheet this weekend.  

The Washington Commanders duo of Jonathan Allen (2013-2016) and Daron Payne (2015-2017) combined for six tackles, two sacks, two pass deflections and four quarterback hits.  

New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (2017-18) registered six tackles and a sack, and Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley (2010-2013) racked up 11 tackles. 

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2015-16) was disruptive too, totaling seven tackles to go along with a fumble recovery.  

Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson (2013-2016) and Los Angeles Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis (2017-2019) each had an interception as well.  

New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins 

Both teams boast multiple former Alabama players, and this AFC East rivalry features two of the program’s all-time best quarterbacks, so attention is always focused on this matchup whenever it takes place.  

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (2017-2019) got the best of his successor in Patriots signal caller Mac Jones (2018-2020), passing for 270 yards and a touchdown en route to a win. Jones went for 213 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception. Tagovailoa linked up with college-turned-NFL teammate Jaylen Waddle (2018-2020) for a 42-yard touchdown in the victory.  

Tagovailoa’s predecessor, Jalen Hurts (2016-2018), totaled 333 yards and a touchdown in a shootout win for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Comeback Stories 

After a 2020 ACL tear hampered his 2021 season as well, it was heartwarming to see Houston Texans tight end O.J. Howard (2013-2016) make a strong contribution in week one, hauling in two touchdowns. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Julio Jones (2008-2010) has also struggled with injuries in recent years, being limited to nine games last season. But now rejuvenated and playing with Tom Brady, Jones looked back to vintage form in a Sunday night victory over the Dallas Cowboys, catching three passes for 69 yards while adding 17 rushing yards to boot. 

Looking Ahead 

The Monday night game features the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.  

The Broncos have three key players in wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (2017-2019), cornerback Patrick Surtain II (2018-2020) and safety Kareem Jackson (2007-2009).

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]